Is there a form to fill out, or will my halo be bestowed automatically? I’m not sure how these things work.
I am a saint. Theologically I already knew that. But now I can prove it: I have just spent a day alone with a five-year-old. Twelve very long hours.
I’m not sure how that happened. Yes, I knew my wife had offered to babysit if necessary when the little girl’s mother had baby number two. Dad, naturally, wanted to be present at the birth. With no family living nearby to drop the young lady off with, somehow we became the first choice for delivery day.
Emphasize “we” there. It was supposed to be a joint effort. My daughter, after all is a kindergarten teacher. She is used to handling five-year-olds. My role was to handle early mornings should the call come before the others were up.
And indeed, it was early morning. The text came to my phone at 7:09. Heading for the hospital, could they drop her off? Did I have a choice? Only technically – it is not the sort of request I could refuse in good conscience.
I had plans for the day but I knew immediately those weren’t going to happen. Fortunately I have a somewhat flexible work schedule, so not showing up at the office as planned wasn’t a big deal. My wife and daughter also had plans. For a day at the spa. They saw no reason why their day should be disrupted. It’s not like I didn’t raise two children.
Now, I am on record as saying I like children. I have several recipes. Usually when I say that, parents make sure their offspring go nowhere near me.
For conversation I prefer the company of older children, say about fifty (I spelled that out so you didn’t think the number was a typo). I did my turn in the church nursery as a teenager and was a duty parent at the co-op nursery school when my children were young. I have informed my children that if I have any say in the matter I will pass on becoming a grandparent. I have changed a million diapers, cleaned up a thousand spills and there is nothing new to be learned from interactions with young children. So that I would more or less voluntarily spend a day with a five-year-old definitely qualifies me for sainthood.
A little older and I could have just given her a book. Or a dozen books. Instead I had to dig out toys from the basement. Marbleworks was a hit, but she didn’t want to play alone. What she did with Tinker Toys was very different from what I remember from my youth. So were the Tinker Toys when it comes right down to it. Mine were wooden, these plastic.
I know there is a box of Barbie dolls in our basement that I was sure would keep her entertained for hours. But I also know Barbie dolls have generated a certain amount of controversy due to the unrealistic body shape. Not knowing if Barbie would be considered an approved toy, the box remained unopened.
I lasted almost 10 hours before I used my ultimate weapon, something I had held in reserve for when my brain had turned to mush: Veggie Tales. I was expected to watch them with her, but at least I didn’t have to come up with a new game.
At the 12-hour mark it was all over. Her father came by to take her to the hospital to see her new sister. Our living room looked like a cyclone hit it. Bits of paper everywhere. I only vaguely remembered the scissors and paper being used. I left it that way for those returning from the spa. I was too drained for much cleanup.
So I have qualified for sainthood. I think that’s a good thing, because I am pretty sure saints don’t have to babysit – it is not in the job description.
(I should mention for the record that my wife did offer to skip the spa and stay home. Next time I’ll let her.)